SIMON Cross is looking to make an unlikely international debut at the age of 39.

Cross, who grew up in Rayleigh, has lived in the British Virgin Islands for the past 10 years.

And, having now qualified to play for his adopted nation, Cross has been named in their squad for a World Cup qualifier against local rivals US Virgin Islands.

“It’s an unusual opportunity that I’m doing my utmost to grab with both hands, literally where possible,” said the former FitzWimarc School pupil.

“I’m partly excited but with big games like this I just try and stay focused on the job in hand and remember what the goalkeeping coach has specified.”

The British Virgin Islands – who are managed by former Ipswich Town and Arsenal striker Chris Kiyomya – currently stand 207th in the FIFA world rankings, one place higher than their border rivals who they take on again tomorrow after drawing 1-1 on Friday.

And Cross, who was on the bench for the first clash, has been handed his call up after impressing for Wolues FC.

“My league team captain Phil Nelson, recommended to the head coach Chris Kiwomya that I be presented with an opportunity to strengthen the goalkeeping position within the team,” said Cross.

“It all came from there really.”

But what makes Cross’ call up even more remarkable is that he only switched to playing in goal around three years ago.

Cross played as a midfielder or defender when lining up for the likes of Rayleigh Boys and White Ensign and was also coached within Southend United’s academy by Peter Taylor when in the under 13s.

But Cross is revelling in his new role.

“Historically I’m a centre midfielder or a centre-back but as my insurance career and family life took hold, I started to struggle maintaining the standard I held for myself and became a bit frustrated with myself at times in terms of fitness levels,” said Cross.

“The position of goalkeeper came up for my league side about three years ago now and I’ve adapted pretty well.

“Sweeping as a centre-back for years really has helped me to read the game and intercept passes as a keeper.

“The modern keeper needs to have decent feet which unlike my preferred fitness levels I’ve managed to hold on to.

“But I never thought it would result in an international call up.”